1.30am I’ve had a weird night. I seem to have come down with yet another cold, in spite of which I chose tonight to pay my first visit to Heaven (the nightclub) in three months. It’s been a fantastic week at work and something in me wanted to party again. I only live ten minutes down the road from Heaven – it wouldn’t have been much out of my way at all. I got there at 11 and quite early on felt that things weren’t right. Many people were dressed in Halloween costumes, and on the walls there were TV screens showing the trailers to classic horror films. When the trailer for Carrie came on I was somewhat freaked out, even though I’ve seen the film and read the book. I guess having just drank a Red Bull I was feeling a bit buzzy, and the blood and guts on screen came as a shock. The music was great, and I tried my hardest to get carried away with it, ignoring the horror trailers on screen, which didn’t get any better after Carrie.

I’d been there for ten minutes when a reasonably attractive guy approached me and started trying to get off with me. He groped and fondled me, which was quite nice, but then he tried to stick his hands down my pants, which I didn’t like. I realised there and then that I had not gone to Heaven to ‘meet’ anybody – I just wanted to dance. Though the man doing the groping was sort of sexy, I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t in the mood. I shook my head and tried to look put out; he got the message quickly and moved onto the next person, right in front of me. Not so long ago I would have been upset by the brazenness. However, I’m well used to the gay scene, and in my new life of confidence I have no intention of being upset by the petty actions of a complete stranger.

For a couple of hours I was able to dance my socks off to some of my favourite tunes. I knew exactly why I’d chosen Heaven, why I always choose Heaven: they play the best music, in my opinion at least. Around 1 o’clock I was mortified to see someone I really didn’t want to see. Ben, my old AA friend with whom I have, shall we say, some history. I hadn’t seen him in almost exactly a year, since I had to testify against him in court. He wasn’t a well person last year, and he doesn’t appear to be any better these days. By some coincidence I was asking after him yesterday, during a conversation with our mutual friend Earl; so I’d heard that he still wasn’t doing too well in life anyway. Tonight he walked straight past me, without seeming to recognise me. Which was a great relief, really, because after everything that happened last year I felt strongly that it would be better for both of us never to see each other again. He looked completely spaced out tonight, as if he was on something. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was. I felt so much sadness when I saw him, as well as a great deal of fear. He is certainly one of those people that life has chewed up and spat out. We both arrived in AA around the same time three years ago. Whenever I think about him I can’t help wondering why I managed to get better, and he didn’t. For a while he seemed to do really well in AA, at least as well as someone with a personality disorder could do. Then, two years ago, he fell apart, and it’s obvious that he hasn’t recovered since. If he’d recognised me tonight I don’t know what I would have said to him. There’s nothing to say.

After that it was hard not to feel like the night had been ruined. I didn’t really feel like much more dancing. I was about to go and get my coat when someone new approached me to try and make a move. Like the guy at the beginning of the night, this one was keen to push his luck, putting his arms around me within seconds of seeing me. I did what I always do in these situations: instead of verbally telling him to back off I did it silently, putting my hands in my pockets and trying to look pissed off. He didn’t get the hint for a long time. Song after song he kept pulling me towards him, using increasing force as time went on, I must say. Every time I attempted to move away he’d grab my arm or my hip, I wasn’t sure if he wanted to dance with me or if he was going to rape me. After half an hour I was scared and angry, and I forcefully started to walk away, at which point he finally gave up, storming off to bother someone else. I wasn’t instantly relieved, as I had images of him running after me, chasing me out of the club all the way home.

The intense paranoia didn’t entirely leave me until I was turning the key in my front door fifteen minutes later. Though the journey home mostly took me through busy main roads, I sensed someone following me most of the way. I don’t know if there was actually someone there or not. It may have been the Red Bull – I’ve always thought that I could be mildly allergic to caffeine, I don’t know why I still drink the stuff – it may just have been a normal reaction to being alone on the dark streets of London late at night.

Safe in my bed now, I guess the one positive about the night is that I didn’t come home feeling suicidal, like I have every time I’ve come home from Heaven recently. I feel some sadness, which I only ever feel when I go there, but I can cope with it. Why does visiting Heaven do that to me? Is it too much of a reminder of my dark, dirty past? I guess tonight was very much like the days of my drinking: seeing people I didn’t want to see, having strange men that I didn’t really like prodding and poking me on the dancefloor as if they’d bought me. I would never go to Heaven again, just to avoid that kind of thing, except there’s this part of me that wants to dance regularly, and I know I’d miss it. That’s why I put up with it, only because of that.

The gay scene is fucked up, it always has been and probably always will be. Some of these people are really damaged. It seems everyone except me is wasted in these places, because you need to be just to deal with it. Gay men are one of society’s most damaged groups, and what’s anyone doing about it? Hardly anything. That’s what I’m really sad about, and when I try and picture having a normal, healthy relationship I just can’t see it any more. There are so few places where it’s safe to meet other men, and in those places everyone is either drunk, high or taken. Each time I go back, even though I might have a good time dancing, I leave feeling as if I’m running out of chances.

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